I’m not really a fan of suspense. I think if the only thing that carries you through a movie is not knowing what will happen, then is it really a good movie? I mean having seen what happens, knowing how it turns out, will I want to watch this again? Still there’s something about that first viewing when you really don’t know. Director Dan Trachtenberg did a hell of a job; I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. Of course, with Bad Robot, suspense comes with the territory. 10 Cloverfield Lane feels like it was directed by JJ Abrams.
What I really liked about this film was how well it was written, especially for how minimalist the script was. There was really only one location and three actors, that’s not a lot to work with. The pacing was great; I was surprised by how easily the smallest thing could change the entire direction of the story. The characters were also really fleshed out. We know where they came from and why they act the way they do. Each of them had a goal (and a plan on how to achieve that goal) at any given time. The best thing though was how the film let you imagine your own responses to the situations. What would you do in her place at any given moment? Hard to say but there’s always a compelling dilemma.
The acting was amazing. I mean John Gallagher Jr. and Mary Elizabeth Winstead were great but I want to talk about John Goodman. The man is amazing. As a thought experiment, I’m imaging John Goodman on Mars instead of Matt Damon and I think they would still have gone to bring him back. He definitely was the star of this show. In this role, he was terrifying and completely believable as the conspiracy nut living out the realization of his nightmares. When John Goodman was on screen, you knew what his character was thinking, even if he didn’t say a word.
Actually there was a lot of dialogue-free moments in this film. Things happened without commentary; it just unfolded as I watched. The camera told the story, it set up the Chekov’s Guns, it dropped clues and hints, it revealed the truth or concealed it to heighten the already insane suspense. Visually, though there wasn’t a lot of gorgeous shots (except the exceptionally designed little set) and there were moments where the camera seemed to become ‘handheld’ for no reason at all, but even with that the visuals absolutely contributed to the narrative.
So is this worth watching? Yes, even if it’s just to see what happens. I might even watch it again to see if my theory (suspense doesn’t work for rewatchability) holds true. Though I might not, not that I know the plot. I mean they didn’t give answers to every single detail but all the major questions were addressed. This is one of those movies that doesn’t need the big screen though, so you could probably wait to rent it. But definitely see it.
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